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Rally driver John O’Dowd of Gooseberry Hill is set to debut on the east coast this weekend. Picture: CMR PHOTOGRAPHIC

John O’Dowd makes rally debut

GOOSEBERRY Hill rally driver John O’Dowd will make his CAMS Australian Rally Championship east coast debut at this weekend’s Eureka Rally in Victoria.

O’Dowd, who has competed in his home Australian Rally Championship event, the Forest Rally, for the past seven years, is excited about the prospect of competing with the county’s best drivers.

“It’s going to be a great experience to be a part of such a big field of talented competitors,” he said.

Eureka Rally, which is the championship season opener and the first rally to be based out of Ballarat in almost 50 years, has attracted a huge number of entrants including 2016 title holder Molly Taylor from NSW, Victoria’s Eli Evans and the ACT’s Harry Bates.

The 50-year-old O’Dowd and Maximum Motorsport teammate Brad Markovic of Kalamunda are the only WA drivers on the entry list.

“Having Brad there is going to be a huge plus.

“He competed in the ARC last year and his experience and advice is going to be invaluable.”

O’Dowd will be joined in his Subaru WRX STI by 33-year-old plumber Ken Sheil from Perth.

Eureka Rally will be their first pairing and O’Dowd hopes they will gel straight away.

“He’s an Irish lad with quite a lot of experience in Europe, so I think we’ll go well together,” he said.

The pair will also compete in all rounds of the 2017 WA Rally Championship which has its season opener, the Trade Hire Kin Kin Rally in the state’s south west, the weekend after Eureka Rally.

O’Dowd said his WARC season goal was to finish in the top spot this year.

The transport business owner, who claimed the WARC’s group N championship four years in a row from 2011 to 2014, had mixed fortunes last season.

“It ended well, but the start wasn’t so great.The Subaru suffered an engine fire in the Busselton round which meant we didn’t get any points, but were very lucky that the car could be repaired for the next event.”

Markovic said he had the package and the pace to mix it with Australia’s best drivers.

His Auto One Subaru WRX STI has a new engine, gearbox and suspension and a fresh co-driver in 2015 WA Rally Champion Toni Feaver of Byford who has competed in state, national and overseas rallies.

By Elissa Macneall

About Anita

Anita Mcinnes received a highly commended in the 2009 WA Media Awards suburban section for her reporting. Two of her sons were born at Swan District Hospital and for many years she was a partner in a small business, which operated in the Gingin-Muchea-Bullsbrook area. As a mature age student Anita studied journalism at Curtin University before working in Busselton, Dunsborough and Rockingham with West Regionals. She says the best part of her job is meeting eastern suburb residents and visiting the many attractions in the area.

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